Twisted Metal has been delighting action fans in one form or another over the last 16 years, so why would David Jaffe, the original producer, change the status quo? Sure, some folks may complain about how the general formula of “drive around and shoot everything that moves” doesn’t change, but those are the fundamentals that the series is based on in the first place. Why alienate from that? And besides, the new Twisted Metal, which just launched a few days ago, does bring a little change to its formula, though the idea of blasting a car to bits with homing missiles and special modified weapons — coming from an ice cream truck — never gets old. At least, not in my eyes.
The game, once again, has the diabolical Calypso holding the Twisted Metal tournament, where the stakes are high. Players of both good and evil nature enter on the mere promise that the mighty Calypso will grant their wish, whether it’s a secret desire or just an opportunity to get rich quick. Many of the familiar characters in the series return, including the deathly Mr. Grimm and the criminally insane Sweet Tooth, flaming frock and all.
Twisted Metal is divided mainly into two parts — single-player and multiplayer. In single player, you’ll have to work your way through three chapters of battles. Each one gets progressively harder, with more aggressive enemies and an end boss — like the crazy Doll Face mech — ready to stomp you flat. But you have teamwork on your side this time around, as, along with one of the three main captains, you choose secondary cars that you can switch to anytime during battle. This not only keeps you fresh in the fight, but also gives you a different arsenal to play with, provided you can get back to your home garage in one piece. These guys don’t screw around.
While the ammunition is sparingly spread out across each map, you do have access to special weapons (some utilizing your fellow gang members, who ride alongside you) as well as unlimited machine guns and ramming capability. But this game is just as much about defense as it is offense. Sure, blasting away at an enemy is fun, but if you aren’t careful, you’ll take a missile up the tailpipe and be sent twisting in the air.
One note — we love the new vehicular abilities in the game, including mid-air vehicles (go attack helicopter!) and mechs. While that may divert a bit from being on four tires, we like the variety. Plus, those babies come in handy when you’re trying to retain a lead.
Pinball physics aside (and some slightly questionable AI quirks), Twisted Metal still plays like a winner. The controls are very responsive, even if the vehicles are a bit lighter than they should be while rummaging through each level, destroying everything in sight and seeking out health power-ups (like a semi that can bring you back to full health – if you can catch up with it). And we must admit, driving through a series of houses to get the jump on someone, rather than coming to a grinding halt, is pure chaotic satisfaction. There goes the neighborhood, literally.
The other half of the game is multiplayer, and Twisted Metal brings plenty of options to hook up with friends and deal out some damage. You can go split-screen or LAN if you have local players, or log in to the PlayStation Network and take out your frustration on your friends’ list. No matter what option you go with, Twisted Metal was built for competition, and Jaffe and his (former) team at Eat Sleep Play have done a grandiose job setting everything up. The only downside are the connection errors we ran into during some parts of the match — but that’s a Sony network error, and, last we heard, it’s being worked on.
Twisted Metal is very close in spirit to the Mature-rated Twisted Metal Black (a bonus included with the Limited Edition — we can’t recommend it enough), as it has all sorts of bloodshed and chaos. If you preferred the TM games of old, well, stick with those games. Twisted Metal, 2012 edition, is a meaty monster, a great PlayStation 3 effort with a quality framerate, a great eye for detail (fire some special weapons and you’ll see), and some truly ridiculous terrain to race around, from said residential neighborhood we tore apart to an amusement park. The live-action cinemas are back, and while we prefer quality CG, we won’t complain too much here.
In terms of sound, Jaffe and his team have the right balance going. A great soundtrack supports all the on-screen action, even if it’s not quite on the level of, say, Twisted Metal 2: World Tour. Hey, close enough. The dialogue is brutal and well delivered (especially Sweet Tooth’s) and the sound effects, from screaming folks to fired weapons, hit the spot.
Though the network options aren’t quite perfect, and the AI may leave you gnawing on your controller (especially when you go flying in mid-air, so close to the garage), Twisted Metal is an animal worth taming. The gameplay, presentation, and multiplayer options all come together for one big party — and everyone’s invited. That is, if you can take Sweet Tooth’s taste of a good time…